This is a letter written by Janice Kapp Perry, who, as most of you know, is a popular LDS musician and author.
During President Hinckley's funeral Tabernacle Choir will be singing a hymn text written by President Hinckley which I set to music in December. I would like to share the story of it with you:
About two months before my niece Kathy Blacker died, on January 11, 2008, she found a three-verse poem by President Hinckley among her files.
Although she was resigned to dying, she had some fears about the dying process and his words greatly comforted her—especially the second verse which descirbed exactly what she was feeling. She wrote to Pres. Hinckley's office to ask permission to have the poem printed on her funeral program, and she received a very nice letter from his secretary Don H. Staheli saying that President Hinckley gave his permission for her to do so.
The letter also conveyed some very comforting words from Pres. Hinckley which were helpful to helpful to Kathy in her final weeks, and he said he would remember Kathy in his prayers.
Then Kathy suggested that I write and ask permission to give the poem a hymn setting. I did so, and Brother Staheli conveyed President Hinckley's permission for me to write the hymn.
After offering some heartfelt prayers that I might be able to write appropriate music for his profoundly beautiful and m oving text, I wrote the hymn setting and sent a copy to President
Hinckley's office for approval at the end of December. I received so immediate response.
Kathy passed away January 11 and after her funeral I sent a copy of her funeral program to President Hinckley's office so he could see how nicely his poem was displayed along side my brother Gary Kapp's painting of Christ.
When I heard President Hinckley had passed away last Sunday night I was feeling a little sad to think I hadn't received a letter with his official
approval. But the very next day after his passing, the hoped-for letter arrived with his approval, his permission for me to publish it in a future volume of my series Inspirational New Hymns for Choir and Home, and leaving it to my discretion as to whether to submit it to the Church Music Division.
The timing was so unusual and I was extremely grateful to receive the letter as a tender mercy in my life.
Then on Monday afternoon Craig Jessop, Tabernacle Choir Director, heard about the hymn and had his office call me to obtain a copy of the hymn for consideration for President Hinckley's funeral. On Tuesday, while travelling in California, I learned that the hymn would be performed by The Tabernacle Choir at President Hinckley's funeral on Saturday.
Having seen the great comfort this hymn brought to my niece who died just two weeks before President Hinckley passed away, my great desire is for people throughout the world to have a free copy of these magnificent words of President Hinckley to comfort them in times of the loss of loved ones.
This is just one more way his influence could be felt down through time.
What is This Thing That Men Call Death
Text by Gordon B. Hinkley, Music by Janice Kapp Perry
What is this thing that men call death
This quiet passing in the night?
'Tis not the end but genisis
Of better worlds and greater light
Oh God, tough Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendant pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict'ry won.
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy one.